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A Magazine for Sheffield

Live Reviews (March '20): DITZ / Precious Metals + Crake / The Seamonsters

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Record Junkee, 15 February

"Probably the best band in the world." A bold claim from Idles lead singer Joe Talbot when discussing Brighton-based quintet DITZ. This assertion adds a certain level of expectation as the band head to Sheffield for the second time to perform at Record Junkee, the record store-turned-gig venue which is the perfect setting for a stellar night of punk.

The first band taking the stage are Naguals, a four-piece, part-improvised post-punk band from Sheffield. Their hard-hitting drumbeats and explosive vocals are a cracking warm-up for the evening. The second support are another local band, Nervous Pills. Sporting an Alex Turner-esque look, lead singer Tom's punchy vocals accompanied by quirky bass riffs bring a raw and grungy feel to their live shows. Having stamped their mark on their home town's music scene, the lo-fi punk band will look to grow their fanbase and build on what looks like an exciting 2020 for the trio.

non-stop noise rock

The headline act, DITZ, enter with lead singer Cal Francis immediately bringing the mic stand into the crowd for the entire performance. The band play a mixture of songs from their debut EP, creativity titled EP1, and tracks which have been released sporadically over the last four years.

The highlight of the gig is the relentless assault of 'Seeking Arrangement'. The minute-and-a-half song is a barrage of non-stop noise rock which will leave you wanting more. With a combination of originality and experimentation, DITZ's erratic live sound sets them apart from the saturated punk scene in the UK. With festival slots already booked in over Europe, this year promises to be huge for the post-hardcore, heavy rock band.

Daniel Atherton

Precious Metals + Crake

Bishops' House, 15 February

In the midst of another cold and damp stretch of weather, promoters Pigeon Hands returned to Bishops' House in Meersbrook Park with an excellent evening of warm tunes. With a peppy set, Sheffield-based Precious Metals opened for Leeds-based Crake, who delivered a soft and at times melancholic one.

Precious Metals started the evening off with strings-heavy surf pop that was buoyant and endearing, even on the sadder songs. They set the stage for the two themes of the night: a warm, inviting sound and lyrics worth catching, particularly on that one about portholes.

Crake followed up with a more laid-back and more acoustic set, which felt both soft and strong in the best way, with mesmerising instrumentals and soothing, husky vocals. The excitement in the room when the bass player picked up a trumpet midway through a song didn't disturb the sort of effortless zen they'd created. They were enjoying themselves and the room was right there with them.

that golden sort of gig where both bands appeared to be sincere, enthusiastic fans of the other

Bishop's House is, thanks to Pigeon Hands, my favourite Sheffield venue space and this gig perfectly highlighted its best features. The intimate, almost living room feel of the small space, closely packed with a captured audience, made each song feel like a spell cast over everyone in the room.

It was that golden sort of gig where both bands appeared to be sincere, enthusiastic fans of the other, as well as of the space itself. The place is so cozy and beautiful, with old flagstone floors and low wood beam ceilings, that only on second glance did I notice the vines creeping up the mic stands. Definitely a sweet touch.

Alice Flanagan

The Seamonsters

18 February, The Harley

Going in blind to a Sheffield indie gig in the post-Arctic Monkeys age, one has a certain steely preconception of what to expect.

But every now and then a splash of colour comes along. Incongruous with a northern indie scene which recycles the boisterous, dark fruits dominated rock 'n' roll of the noughties, five-piece The Seamonsters enter the stage like a technicolor blast of fresh air. Elegant in their simplicity, their endlessly catchy hooks radiate the promise of the really authentic: confidence.

Frontwoman Naomi Mann's vocals are as waifish and celestial as a teenage Kate Bush, but surrounded by the dark whirlpools of guitar work and tactile drumming that her bandmates provide, The Seamonsters morph into something more modern. Mann's voice swims through rock and synthpop soundscapes with dexterity and playfulness, with lyrics to match. From the impossibly sweet 'Max and Archie', with its glittery Belle and Sebastian-esque keys, to the striking bassline of 'How to Be Famous', Mann uses the band's sonic bedrock to spin social commentary through song.

social commentary through song

Tunes like the classic Hollywood fairytale of 'Blue Movie Baby' ("You be my Miller and I'll be your Monroe / Let's hit the road before you have to go") yearn for a bygone (or fictional?) age of romance, while the satirical verses of 'How to Be Famous' ("A fixed reality / So-called entertainment / Is there a sensuality / in a talentless environment?") shame the clinical, capitalistic nature of a male-dominated industry.

This would be self-righteous sermonising if it wasn't for a preceding - and chilling - use of voicemail samples that whisper of "brand deals and diet pills". You get the impression that The Seamonsters are as unconvinced by the music industry as we are.

Louis Norton

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